Your child’s test anxiety and what to do about it

USDE2A post fromTennessee, in Clarksville Onlinehas the title Helping Your Child Succeed in School: Helping Your Child with Test-Taking. There is no byline.  Yet story comes out of Washington. DC, and has the seal of the US Department of Education next to it.  Is the writer someone at the Department of Education? That may or may not be consequential. The article has its merits. To start with, it shows that there is an issue: test anxiety can be harmful to students.  It helps parents to do what they can to manage their kids’ stress. And there are some very good suggestions.   But the article—and the thinking behind it—don’t dig into the roots of test anxiety. It suggests that the word “TEST” is causing stress in kids. But the word is only four letters on a piece of paper or a computer screen. The letters are not jumping up and grabbing your child by the throat. If you child has test anxiety, her response to those letters is full of fear. Perhaps she’s thinking, “I can’t handle this!,” or her stomach starts churning, or she feels like she wants to run out of the room, or some combination of all three. When your child takes a test, or even thinks about taking one, the three players on her team, her body, mind, and spirit are all involved. Performance psychology tells us that we need optimal states in all three to perform well. Your child’s body needs to be calm, her mind confident, and her spirit focused.  In order to achieve these states she needs two things: awareness and tools. She needs to be aware that she’s losing it in her body, mind or spirit, that she’s becoming tense, self-doubtful and distracted. And then she needs tools to get her back on track. There are only nine tools—three for the body, three for the mind, and three for the spirit. I wrote Test Success! because students need to be taught the tools for handling any test successfully. That means tests in school and tests in life. And  parents? They need the awareness and tools as well, so they can be more calm, confident and focused in handling life’s stresses—including their kids’ test anxiety.

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